The latest update on the Arizona Wildcats quarterback carousel is that there isn’t one. At least not yet.
With just two days of the Wildcats’ trip to face the Oregon No.3, coach Jedd Fisch said Thursday he needed more time to assess his options for the job.
“We’re going to leave the red zone day today (Thursday) in practice to fend for itself and see how they all play,” said Fisch.
The competition goes to Gunner Cruz and Jordan McCloud. Fisch said both quarterbacks had performed “well” in practice this week, while Will Plummer was “a little tired” after starting last week against NAU. Cruz would only make his third college start if given the green light against the Ducks, while none of McCloud’s two seasons start at USF came against a Power 5 school.
Plummer started in last week’s loss to NAU, throwing two costly picks against the FCS school – one of which was fired for a touchdown. That opened the door for a fourth quarter appearance for McCloud, who completed 6 of 7 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. He also nearly tied the game on a 2-point conversion attempt.
Cruz, who was the Arizona starter to open the year only to be demoted to Channel 3 after a poor performance in a resounding loss to San Diego State, could get another hit against the Ducks.
Fisch did not say if he would publicly announce the team’s starter ahead of Saturday night’s game, but reiterated that the goal was to play the starter throughout the game. Coach UA also did not rule out installing a package for specific situations for the backup QB, whatever it is.
“If there is a game or two, maybe it would be for a bundle game,” he said.
Arizona prepare to face challenges from both sides of the ball at Autzen Stadium, notoriously one of the toughest venues for opponents due to the noise of the crowds.
On offense, Arizona sets up a silent instant account.
“Quiet counting is essential,” said Fisch. “Traditionally what happens is that your noise comes when the offense is on the pitch, calling the game from the caucus. You have to be keenly aware of this and it is a challenge. We will see how well we snuggle up.
The Oregon crowd is sure to roar over the Ducks ‘big offensive plays, which could create some problems for the Wildcats’ defense when it comes to calling plays. In these situations, Fisch expects to use hand signals for the linebackers, which will communicate the next play call to the rest of the defense.
Oregon stars are back
As if playing the nation’s No. 3 team on the road wasn’t tough enough for the Wildcats, the Ducks are ready to put two of their best players back into the lineup.
Junior rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux is set to return after missing the last two weeks with a sprained left ankle. The former five-star rookie trained this week and coach Mario Cristobal told local media Thibodeaux was “really close” to being ready to return.
Fisch credited the Oregon defense for his physique, saying he expects the Arizona offensive line to have their hands full with Thibodeaux and the Ducks pass rush. Oregon has seven sacks in three games.
“If Thibodeaux is playing, we have to have a good plan for him,” said Fisch. “We expect them to really come out and play great football.”
Starting quarterback Anthony Brown Jr., who left last week’s game against Stony Brook after the first half, is also coming back from injury. Cristobal said the quarterback was “ready to play” for Saturday’s game.
Havrisik always kicks
After the San Diego State game on September 11, Fisch named rookie Tyler Loop UA’s first place kicker.
However, it was Lucas Havrisik who was back in the starting role last week against NAU. The senior made his two field goal attempts (31 yards and 24 yards).
Fisch said Thursday he was staying with Havrisik to handle the baskets and kickoffs against the Ducks.
“Lucas had a great week of training last week,” said Fisch. “He kicked the ball well during the games. “
Havrisik is 2 for 2 on field goals in his career at Autzen Stadium. Both kicks came in the 2019 game against Oregon, with the longest attempt at 42 yards in the 34-6 loss.
Contact sports producer Alec White at 573-4161 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @alecwhite_UA